Review: Cabals of Hydra Sector

Blimey, this Crawford bloke is writing stuff faster than I can review it.

This is the latest of the free web supplements for Stars Without Number; a 7-page document looking at cabals present in Hydra Sector, the example setting provided in the SWN rulebook.

We get background information on two of these, the Gansu Loyalty Association and the Daedalus Group, together with full statistics for them using the rules from the Darkness Visible espionage sourcebook. We also get capsule descriptions of a round dozen further cabals.

While the two main cabals are fine examples of how to craft agencies using the DV rules, they can also be dropped into a campaign pretty much as is. You’ll need DV to get full use from the statblocks, but the descriptions are clear enough to use them without this.

The GLA feels like a 1960s-style communist intelligence agency, and would be well-suited as a long-term opponent for more liberal regimes. Absolute power corrupts absolutely, and having the power, GLA agents also have the corruption, meaning they can be introduced gradually as a source of hard-to-get items, with their longer-term goals being revealed piecemeal over the course of a campaign. To incorporate them into your own campaign, you need an isolationist state along the lines of contemporary North Korea to act as their sponsors. Personally, I think they work better as NPC opponents than as sponsors for the players.

By contrast, the Daedalus Group and its vaulting but flawed ambitions would serve well as an employer for PCs, since its severe casualties to date are forcing it to recruit relatively green agents. I’d recommend using it as the core of a conspiracy theory; as the campaign progresses and the PCs move closer to the inner membership, the Group’s motivations and actions move from admirable, to questionable, to a necessary evil, to downright insane. To use it in a different campaign, it needs a homeworld which is outnumbered and outgunned by an aggressive enemy.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

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